Monday, May 26, 2008

Shawnigan Lake Triathlon

This past weekend was the 2nd annual Shawnigan Lake Triathlon. It was great seeing so many familiar faces again after being away for so long. It was easy to get wrapped up in the excitement and anticipation of the race during the set up and kids race. As a bonus, it was great catching up with some old friends and training buddies.
Sunday morning, bright and early, Kent and I head up to Shawnigan Lake. I keep forgetting how beautiful it is up island. All it takes is 30 minutes on the highway, and you've made it to paradise. Driving along the Malahat, Kent and I couldn't take our eyes off the most beautiful sunrise I've ever seen; the sun inching it's way higher and higher through the mountains, reflecting off the lake. A done deal - I have to go out there more often this summer.
The race started at 7:40am. Arriving with Kenton at the start area at 6am, I got all my things organized in transition, and got my body marking done.
The water at Shawnigan Lake was freezing!!! I spent a lot of time debating weather or not I should use Lindsay's neo-prem cap with a chin strap; I chose nay figuring it was only 500m. About 50m out, I was kicking myself for my decision.
This was my first swim with a wetsuit in 8 months. Coming out of the water I felt pretty good; my removal of my wetsuit went a lot better than expected.
The bike course was absolutely beautiful - circling around Shawnigan Lake for the first time, I was amazed. It was a steady push, and a couple decent upills, at the end of the loop, I definitely wasn't jealous of Lindsay doing 4 of them.
Going back into transition, I felt strong. My legs weren't cramping, and I was keeping a decent pace and directing my bike farely well. Then I get to my spot on the bike rack. I get flustered, I have a hard time undo-ing my cycling shoes, and transferring my orthotics. I got majorly discouraged. Heading out for the run, I hear Kenton cheering me on, which gives me back some motivation. The run course is unbelievable. The whole way to the turn around, I am scoping everyone out, making sure they're not Melinda, Lindsay's Mom, who's racing with me. As I see the turn around marker, I breathe a sigh of relief..... until I turn around and she is 10m behind me! Running scared for the next kilometre, I can hear her footsteps getting closer and quicker to me, until she's running beside me. She tells me to stay with her, and we ran together for 1.5 kilmeters, until we both explode at the 1km remaining marker - her going faster, me going slower. I cross the finish line 2 minutes after her.
Feeling really lethargic and heavy, I was a little bummed out about how I felt during the race. It was easily forgotten once you make your way around the race site and start chatting with friends. I was reveling in the positive energy that everyone was emitting. It was wonderful. All in all, it was a great race experience, great venue, great weather, great coordinators... I couldn't ask for anything more.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Juan de Fuca trail

I'm finally back in Victoria! It's never felt better to be back home, back in my own place, sleeping in my own bed. It was relieving to unpack my suitcase and put everything back into my closet. After living out of my suitcase for 7 long weeks, it's nice not having it in sight. After flying back from Hawai'i, I went to see Paulie in Salmon Arm. It was a long couple days of traveling! Needless to say it was very much needed, and I had a great visit. Paulie's recovering quicker than anyone imagined he would; hiking and walking lots, and even went out on a mountain bike ride last week! Paulie is an inspiration in every sense of the word. On Sunday, we went to the Salty Dog mountain bike race, where Paulie and I stayed in the feed zone, calculating the time Tom and Kevy would be coming through, and chatting away about life and summer plans. It was great!

This weekend, I went hiking with Kenton along the Juan de Fuca trail. It was so so so amazing to say the least. Two days of hiking with no real agenda set out... we just moved according to how we felt. Day one, started out at 6am, driving out past Sooke, to the start of the trail. Arrived at the China beach parking lot at 7:30am. We got our packs organized, parking permits settled, and left shortly after that. We traveled from China Beach to Chin Beach, which was approximately 21km. Kilometers 11-20 held the roughest terrain, with intense uphills and some sketchy descents.
Kent's back and my feet surely felt it. In an 8 hour hiking day, we took approximately an hour of rest which was broken into 3 stops for our PB & J bagels, and smarties out of the trail mix. Thanks to Marsh for his delish homemade granola bars and water purification tablets.

Hiking along cliff edges, suspension bridges, tree stumps, insane mud sections, and some of the most serene and breathtaking views you could ever imagine, I have never felt so happy, so peaceful, so humbled. There is nothing more beautiful than Mother Nature. Well, maybe besides the sound of the comfortable silence (and occasionally the bursts of my heavy breathing) while being surrounded in such a gorgeous environment. The smell of the ocean, the vibrant green leaves on the trees, all of which stimulated my senses and led to a sensory overload. For the most part, I found myself speechless.

We arrived at the Emergency Shelter at 3:30pm... our much anticipated stop... our safe haven. The walls were covered in names, dates, sayings, poems, etc.. The most prominent one, written in thick black marker, right in front of the door read, "Juan de Fuc this trail in the ass". Repeating that saying over and over never got old. We decided to stop in the cabin for an hour, rest a little, eat some dinner, then trek down 100 meters to the beach and set up our tent and campsite. While sitting on the wooden bench of the cabin, we heard only the sounds of the birds chirping, the waves riding up against the beach, and our own sighs of relief. The more time we spent sitting in the cabin, the more tired I got and heavier I felt. The idea of staying over in the emergency shelter kept sounding better and better to me. The only problem: How to convince Kenton to staying in the cabin overnight? Especially after pumping up the idea of how cool it would be to camp in a tent on the beach. As I'm thinking what to say, I hear, "Do you just want to stay here tonight?" Ahhh, music to my ears!

Kent pulled out a deck of cards, and taught me how to play Gin Rummy. In no time flat we're playing hand after hand, as I picked the all the smarties out of our trail mix.
I have a feeling that Gin Rummy has become what crib is to Brad and Libby.
Our dinner, cold Spaghetti from tupperware containers that we made the night before, had never tasted so good. After having enough of Kenton slaying me over and over in Gin Rummy, we decided to set up our bunk beds and head to bed. It didn't take long after we turned off our canoe brand flashlights (Pound it, Paulie!) did I hear the scurrying of mice along the floor of the cabin. The combination of the crashing waves, and the mice searching throughly for leftovers, woke me up at 3:30 and couldn't get back to sleep... I couldn't stop watching the mice. I was impressed with their climbing abilities... It was quite entertaining. For such small creatures, they sure make quite the racket.

Day two started quite later than the one previous. We woke up at 8:10. I could tell I was really tired. We ate our breakfast; an apple, some orange slices, and a bagel with PB. Taping up my blistered heals and packing up our backpacks we set out on the trails at 9:30. We decided to head onwards on the trail (as opposed to hiking the 20km back to China Beach, which was one options we were thinking of). We re-routed, and headed onward on the trail, to Sombrio.
Coming to an ATV trail that merged with the Juan de Fuca, we evaluated our options and ruled that it was a safe bet it would lead to the highway. With 3 hours of hiking for day two, we finally found the road and tried our luck with hitchhiking back. After being passed by a couple of vehicles packed with people, camping materials and surf boards, we finally got picked up by two hot surfer chicks; Kelly and Morgan. Oddly enough, one of them being friends with Kenton from Calgary. Go figure.

Very soon, we were back at the China Beach parking lot. It felt great to get into the car, and take off my shoes! After a short drive home, (and appreciating another mode of transportation besides the heel-toe!) I found myself lying around the house, trying to recuperate and reminiscing over a very fun and eventful couple of days. Plans are still pending for another hiking adventure to complete the other side of the Juan de Fuca. Anyone wanna come with?


Thursday, May 1, 2008

So long, and thanks for the zen!

Here I am, writing to you from the Vancouver airport; a place that is like a labyrinth to navigate through and filled with tonnes of anxious travelers, grumbling, unhappy airport workers, and overpriced everything... but I have never been so happy to be here - back in Canada - almost back at home... I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! Although I am really looking forward to getting back to my place, I am also a little disappointed that I'm leaving Hawaii. This means no more talks about life with Jess and Marcelo... no more coqui frogs to serenade me asleep... no more Chad making me the best sandwiches at Safeway slash telling me his life stories... no more ecstatic dance... no more hitchhiking. It seems like it was a couple days ago that I was watching old greg with Dan and Jamie, 6 weeks ago. With awesome trips to the hot ponds, riding the 'be cool loop', Climbing up a Volcano on my bike, Waikoloa for the lavaman, a weekend in Kona with Lindsay, Sailing with the Hanza's, hiking trips to the Hamakua falls, and quality time with Jess and Caro, Paulie's safe and successful surgery with a quick recovery, this is definitely a trip that is going to stay with me forever. I am so blessed to have such amazing people in my life. If you are reading this, chances are you're one of them - so thanks!

Keep Dreaming,